This is Part One of our spring and summer 2020 roundup of the best gear for paddling, camping and general outdoor use.
Although we are paddlers at heart and by nature as the waters course through our blood, the one thing we’ve always said is that camping unites us all as outdoors people. No matter your outdoor passion, the one thing we all have in common is that we camp out — ideally together. For this series of gear reviews, we wanted to get started with a few of our favorites the PL Gear Testing Team have been playing with over the last few months, both in and around our homes, as well a few surprises.
You can never have too many LED/USB rechargeable lanterns, headlamps and power stations in your kit. We’ve been fans of the Ledlenser brand for a while, especially their tiny headlamps, and they have been crushing it during quarantine, introducing a number of new camp lanterns, flashlights and headlamps. These pocket sized outdoor lights create a cozy atmosphere even when things are dicey and uncomfortable, and work well for all applications, from car camping to expedition paddling. Available in a warm or white light, this lantern features a power bank, two hooks, a removable base and a magnet hanging system.
Cusa Instant Coffee
Made with high-elevation Arabica beans from, according to the brand, a Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee plantation that practices fully regenerative agriculture and organic farming practices, Cusa Coffee is our new favorite instant coffee packet. It contains no sugar, no preservatives and no ingredients besides coffee beans, processed with a unique cold press method that works well served hot or cold. Eight ounces is about the right amount of water. The Cusa instant teas are also amazing and you can’t have too many of these things in your camp kitchen. 7 per box, $6.99 available online and at most grocery chains.
Diamondback Fat Bike
Our new favorite shoulder season toy, this thing is perfect for ripping packed powder, mud, sand, and dirt trails while you’re waiting for the river to come up and the creeks to come in. The Diamondback el Oso Dos is not the first or only fat bike by any means, but it’s a great value on a relatively light and rigid aluminum frame, with good stiffness for handling and steering due to thru-axles front and rear. Oversized tires fit on 26-inch rims with hydraulic disc brakes.
Breeo Outpost Fire Grate
Breeo is perhaps a lesser known brand to some of our readers, but believe us they are worth checking out. Especially these handy, portable fire grates that work over any firepit, no matter your location, and also work in conjunction with the high-end 19-inch Breeo firepits you’ll see on the company’s website. Some of the home models approach a grand, but there are many models that you’ll find to be more affordable with a certain quality and cache not found in typical outdoor brands. And, this one comes with its own bag to keep your rig clean(er) during transport. Breeo’s “Anchorpoint” technology plants in the ground adjacent to your fire for convenient, stable grilling access. They are made in the USA from 100 percent stainless steel.
Stay tuned for more insightful, authentic and real-world gear reviews from our crack team of global gear testers.